Competition training was taxing on the body, I practiced daily; I took 90 minute hot yoga classes and afterwards, would train for an hour or two, and then on the weekends, I would literally spend all day in the yoga studio. I hadn’t trained like that since my days as a classical ballerina but I felt strong, determined, and completely motivated.
One of my passion projects is working with the Lupus Foundation of America as an ambassador. This came about after I was diagnosed with lupus nephritis on my birthday, June 16, 2016. With that, I began to share my story very candidly, attended speaking engagements to educate those about what life is like with lupus and have hosted various events to raise funds for the organization, which inevitably, is put towards facilitating research. Before my diagnosis I had never even heard of lupus.
Initially, lupus impacted my life, especially my yoga journey in a massive way. Prior to my diagnosis, I was extremely sick during a National yoga competition in May of 2016. I was already struggling terribly at that time and when I stepped on stage to compete, I literally collapsed. I stopped practicing immediately and honestly never thought that I would practice yoga again. I lost my hair, my motor skills, experienced brain fog along with severe joint pain and inflammation, night sweats, sores in my mouth, blood blisters on my fingers, and extremely high fevers. I actually thought that I was dying at the time and was so grateful after my diagnosis, as I knew what was wrong with me and there was light at the end of the tunnel.
My lupus has taught me that I can’t practice the way in which I would like to every single day. I’m very selective about my workout routine and if I start to feel badly, I take a few days off from yoga and just let me body relax. It’s not what I want to do, I actually feel lazy during those times but it’s taught me that I have no choice, it’s either rest or have a flare up. In addition, because my practice is a bit more extreme and intense than the average person, the yoga has actually taught me when my body is doing well versus when it’s not. If I can’t do the extreme backbend or my joints hurt while practicing, it’s definitely a sign that I need to take a few days off and relax. It’s hard because I thrive on physical activity and I truly believe that the mental and physical benefits of yoga have helped me more successfully manage my lupus nephritis. However, I’ve learned to listen, reluctantly slow down sometimes, and give my body what it needs.
With that said, ever since my diagnosis my life has changed for the better. I left the world of finance in 2018 and eventually began to follow my passion of yoga. At the time I didn’t know what that looked like but I remained positive, completely optimistic, and as cliche as it sounds, let the universe guide me. As soon as I let go and began manifesting what I envisioned for my future, my life really began to take off. I completed my 300 hour yoga teacher training, continued competing, actively began teaching, and finally began to look out for my own best interest. I was awarded many opportunities to share my story, which for someone who felt like they were at rock bottom more than once after also having suffered from an eating disorder, alcoholism, and severe depression, I was extremely grateful.
Fast forward to the pandemic, I’m actually very thankful for the quiet time that Covid-19 awarded me. I was able to reset and come up with a long term plan. I don’t always know where things are going but new and exciting opportunities continue to present themselves. It’s also due to the pandemic that I was introduced to RISE. I had the wonderful experience of teaching two sponsored classes for RISE and ever since then I’ve kept RISE as part of my daily routine. Whenever I need a morning jolt or an afternoon pick me up, I immediately reach for a can of RISE. The Original Black is my favorite flavor and is just what I need to get through my days which is filled with physical activity. Also, I’m an overnight oats fiend and the Oat Milk is just everything. Likewise, the small cans of cold brew are just enough and with the vast assortment of flavors there is something for everyone! It’s perfect and comes highly recommended on my end!!
RISE is key when it comes to getting through my daily training routine. Currently, I work with a flexibility coach one to two times per week, I practice yoga three times a week, and weight train at the gym three times a week. I never thought that health and wellness would be my primary focus in life but I truly welcome it with open arms. It’s given me so much peace and direction in my life.
Movement is medicine on so many levels and I say it all of the time, but yoga truly saved my life. Things couldn’t be better, I feel like I’m living my best life, and genuinely couldn’t be happier. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to connect with the RISE community. The future is bright and I look forward to seeing how things manifest over the next few years. Lastly, join me for a yoga class or on one of my upcoming wellness retreats, follow me on Instagram @whatgibbs and hop to my website, www.whatgibbsnyc.com to learn more about my offerings!